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30 Years Later, The Olmsted Locks And Dam Project Is Complete

There are around 200 locks in the rivers across the nation.

Most of them are decades old and needing replaced.

Two of them were officially replaced after taking 30 years to complete.


The Ohio River Locks and Dams 52 and 53 were originally built in 1929, and had temporary lock chambers in 1979 with a 15-year design life.

In 1988, Congress approved replacing the locks and dams - scheduled to be finished in 1998, something Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell remembers well.

“No one ever anticipated it would take 30 years. I was in my first term in the Senate when we started this in 1988 and here we are in 2018.”

Thursday the Army Corps of Engineers had a ribbon cutting to celebrate the completion of a project that was long overdue.

Over time, inflation, river conditions, design changes and many other factors raised the price from its original $775 million to over $3 billion.

Illinois Senator Dick Durbin says it's money well spent.

“The (Army) Corps (of Engineers) estimates that each year will see a $640 million net benefit from the new locks and dams. They estimate the project will pay for itself in just 5 years.”

The lock and dam helps around 90 million tons of cargo pass through this area every year.

This project is estimated to be the most ambitious project the United States has completed on inland waterways.

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